Combatting Real Estate Fraud – Fraud Awareness Month

April 18th, 2016

geo2Real estate fraud is rampant and emerges in so many forms. The only way real estate professionals can combat real estate fraud is to be aware of it. Due diligence is key in this regard.

Do we need extra due diligence because there are lots of consumers out there looking to mislead you? No. We need to do extra due diligence because fraud can often occur because of an omission that a homeowner sees as innocent. More commonly, some homeowners aren’t even aware of some matters as they relate to their homes.

In the spirit of Fraud Awareness Month, we thought we’d cover some ways that you can use your tools to dig deeper and know everything possible about a deal you are working on.

  1. The property’s sales history – this can reveal a lot, including owners, timing and amounts of transfers. Too many transfers in a short period of time or transfers between parties that are non-arms length could be a red flag and worth inquiring with your client about.
  1. The property’s insurance history – this can reveal problems in a property that the homeowner may or may not be aware of. Repeated claims for the same things are a sign that the property could have issues.
  1. The property’s past use – did you know that there are even searches now that can reveal if a property was previously used as a grow op or meth lab. Knowing if your client’s property or a property your client is buying has been used for nefarious acts is basic due diligence.
  1. Who owns the home – ensuring that your client(s) is/are the only legal homeowner(s) is critical to mitigating real estate fraud. Ask for ID and check ownership independently to be sure.

A big part of catching potential fraud is independently validating the information provided to you. In many instances, issues can come up that are not fraud but could impact your deal. Mitigating fraud has the side benefit of giving you the ability to learn more about your deals and to help your client through resolving challenges.

Even if something does come up on a deal where a client has withheld something, such as not telling you about a lien – finding out through the course of due diligence improves the level of service you offer. A lien won’t go away by itself, so you knowing about it means that you can help the client figure out what to do about it.

Being aware is your first step towards combatting real estate fraud. GeoWarehouse has the tool that make that easy. Visit today.